Sunday, June 28, 2015

Our Twenties

Our twenties are a very important stage of life. We leave adolescence and begin adulthood. We aspire to live independent of our parents and experience rapid transition. We seek romance and try to launch our careers. It's a period of excitement and anxiety. Most things are new to us and our experiences are novel.

When I started blogging six years ago, I quickly became friends with Diana, a 25-year old living in Florida. Diana graduated college but hadn't started her career yet. She was anxious to do so. She was also single.

Today, I met Diana in person for the first time. She's visiting Philadelphia for a convention and I went down there to have lunch with her. It was encouraging. In the past six years, Diana secured employment as a school librarian, earned her Master's Degree, started networking in her field, and gained palpable confidence. She also found romance and got married. Now 31, Diana is a successful woman in the bloom of adulthood. It's gratifying to see how her life has drastically changed in a short period of time.

Diana used to have a fashion-blog. When her career took off, she didn't have enough time to maintain it and created a new blog devoted to her work. Diana didn't close down the old blog and says she might resurrect it if more time becomes available in the future.

How did your life change in your twenties?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Peace and Love

I bought this pretty necklace in Woodstock last week. Back in the days of my youth, the peace symbol stood for love and harmony. We advocated for that and believed change was possible.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Snapshots of Life

When you travel, you tend to pay more attention to your surroundings and experiences. That happened to me on my recent motorcycle trip. Here were some observations...

- Every time I ride a motorcycle over a bridge, I turn into a 5-year old boy. Wheee!!!

Being up so high, without a cage around you, exposed to the air and sights, you are confronted with reality. The view isn't a televised one; you are actually present and existing on a larger scale than normal. The magnitude of reality and our small place within it viscerally feel like they should.

- During breakfast at the hotel, I sat next to an older couple. The man was talking. And talking. And talking. He never paused and, surprisingly, his wife never said a word. The man wasn't conversing, he was lecturing, on one topic after another.

I wasn't paying much attention until I heard him say that women shop more than men. He started lecturing his wife on what women like to buy, how shopping meets their suppressed emotional needs, and why they engage in such odd behavior. All the time he's saying this, he's talking TO A WOMAN! How clueless is someone to tell a woman about female life? He achieved a rare combination of arrogance and obliviousness. Have you ever met anyone like this?

- I approached a milk/sugar counter with my cup of tea and saw an older woman fixing her coffee. I waited for her to finish instead of reaching across her for milk and sugar. I believe behavior like that is rude. As she turned to leave, she looked me in the eye and said, "My! You are so polite! Thank you." Then she smiled.

Have we become a society where it is okay to jostle others and be inconsiderate? Has common courtesy disappeared? Maybe that's the case with many people but I refuse to behave badly. I'm polite in every situation and act that way because I believe in courtesy. Rudeness by others isn't deterring me in this regard.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My Sixties Dress

What's better than an old vintage dress from the 1960's? A brand-new vintage dress from that era!

Fifty-year-old garments suffer from age; their material and stitching decay over time. Also, the limited selection of vintage dresses rarely include any big enough to fit a large gal.

My friend Jessica is the maven of vintage clothing. Her blog (Chronically Vintage) is a fabulous exploration of the subject. If you haven't read it yet, you should. Jessica entertains and educates. She taught me that clothing made today using authentic vintage designs are properly called "vintage reproductions." The term "vintage" is reserved for clothing that's actually at least 50 years old. A related category is "vintage appropriate" which covers modern items that resemble vintage but aren't real vintage designs. Jessica explains the distinctions among these terms in a video.

During my visit to Woodstock last week, I discovered a clothing store whose owner, Molly, makes vintage reproductions. She sold me a dress that she made herself, using a real pattern from the 1960's. The fabric and print were popular at the time; I saw them often. Spying the dress last Friday, I snatched it off the rack, bubbling and elated at my find.

The depth of my attraction to this dress can't be overstated. Back in my youth, I envied girls who wore this style. My emotions back then had an intensity you can't imagine. I wanted to BE a girl more than anything. I wanted to wear clothes like this. But, alas, that was forbidden.

Now, when I put on this garment, I'm amazed at my freedom. I never thought I'd be allowed to wear this pretty dress. What you see in the following pictures is not merely a clothing outfit but a display of astonishment and gratitude.

Thank you for letting me share this with you.




Sunday, June 21, 2015


I took Robin on a three-day motorcycle trip this weekend. We had a blast.

In addition to riding, we did two seemingly-impossible tasks. First, we travelled back in time to the 1960's and, second, we walked on water. The first activity, of course, was visiting Woodstock which retains the spirit of its famous 1969 festival. The second activity involved walking across the Hudson River on a new pedestrian bridge.

Taking a motorcycle up there added to the fun. Riding long-distance is meditative. Your mind relaxes and contemplates big issues that we never get to with the press and distractions of daily life. While up North, the riding became more exciting as twisty roads with unpredictable elevation-changes made the experience like a roller-coaster. Increasing the challenge of navigating such roads (at triple the speed limit) is noticing, more than casually, the absence of a shoulder. The survival portion of your brain screams, THERE'S NO ROOM FOR ERROR! Which heightens the excitement.

Woodstock is a fun place to visit. It has a Bohemian vibe with lots of art and culture. We saw a fascinating photo-exhibition and heard music played in Village Green. The greatest attraction of the town is its shopping. There are dozens of small stores of every kind selling things you'll never find in a mall. Clothing boutiques, thrift-stores, gift shops and even bookstores. (I thought the latter were extinct.)

The first time I visited Woodstock, magic happened and I found a gorgeous vintage dress. This time, even greater magic was performed. Not only did I find a pretty dress but it's better than vintage. What's better than vintage? A dress made according to an authentic 1960's pattern that is brand-new and not frayed from fifty years of decay. I bought the dress from the woman who made it -- her name is Molly and she owns a shop in town called Sew Woodstock. At her shop, Molly sells wonderful clothing and teaches sewing. She sits at a sewing machine making clothes as she tends the store. She teaches sewing classes and promotes her craft. You may recall that sewing is one of my aspirations; it will certainly become a future hobby.

The dress, which you'll see in a few days, is a popular design that I saw often during my youth, on both young girls and adult women. It's adorable and uses a fabric-print that reminds you viscerally of that era. Bright, vibrant and cute.

I also brought home a second outfit comprised of a purple tie-dyed maxi-skirt and purple/white top, enhanced by a peace-sign necklace. What's more Sixties than that?

A symbol of Woodstock's spirit is found in its long-standing tradition of not having any traffic lights in town. That would be like, capitulating to the Man, man. Can ya dig it?

While up in the area, I thought it'd be fun to explore something quirky I discovered online. In the 1860's, a railway bridge was built across the Hudson River, halfway between New York and Albany. It was the only one around. For a century, it got heavy use by trains carrying wares and soldiers. Then, its importance diminished as trucks replaced trains in commerce. In 1974, the bridge caught fire and stopped being used.

With the same spirit behind the new High Line park in Manhattan, smart government-planners decided to restore the bridge and transform it into a linear park. They re-built the decayed structure and created a wide, pleasant walkway for pedestrians. The walkway is the longest pedestrian bridge in the world and over a mile long. You can walk in either direction and peer down at the huge Hudson River. The bridge is State-owned and called Walkway Over The Hudson. It connects the towns of Poughkeepsie and Highland.

The walkway is delightful. Unlike bridges you can walk over with loud, smelly trucks, there are no vehicles allowed on this bridge. Just families, children and smiling couples enjoying a pleasant wide path with scenic views.

Here are some pics from the trip...






Friday, June 19, 2015

Motorcycle Trip

I was twelve when Woodstock had its festival in 1969. Peace, love and rock 'n roll -- of course my mother wouldn't let me go. I begged and begged, to no avail. Later, I saw the movie about the concert and regretted not running away from home. Janis, Jimi and other legends rocked hard. And naked young people rolled in the mud while during drugs and having sex. That's an experience!

 I'm riding my motorcycle to Woodstock today to see if the party is still going on. Yes, I'm a little late but maybe there's still fun to be had. At least I can roll around in the mud.  :-)

Do you know about Woodstock?

Monday, June 15, 2015

1964 Secretary

I try to imagine female experiences. Having been kept from them, I strive to imagine what they feel like. The exercise isn't limited to current times; it includes the past as well.

The impulse fueled a recent shopping spree. I went searching for skirt-suits, such as those worn in the 1950's-1980's. I admired women wearing them back then and want to simulate their experience to the extent I'm able.

Here's an example of something a working woman would wear in the mid-1960's. The skirt-suit captures a generally conservative style but is modernized by bright colors and flared sleeves. Together, the ensemble reflects how fashion was changing in the Sixties away from conservative to more playful and bold looks.

What do you think?




Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Old Days

When I was small, giants roamed the Earth.

My parents' generation lived through a World War and were deeply affected by its misery. They smoked and drank and smoked some more. During his childhood, my father and his friends took up smoking to stave off hunger-pangs from lack of food. They lived in a war-zone with bombs falling daily.

Then the war ended. My dad immigrated to this country, got a foothold as a barber, met a girl, got a better job as a cop, and built a life. The 1950's and prosperity arrived. My parents had two young boys, a house in the bucolic suburbs, and hope for the future. They built a bar in their unfinished basement where they entertained their friends on weekends. When I was six years old, I'd sneak out of bed and peer down the stairs to watch adults get soused with rising joviality.

Many times my dad would say he was amazed that people in America could eat meat every day. Growing up in Germany, meat was so expensive families could only afford it once a week. Meals including meat were a rare luxury. Now, here, hamburgers were as common as bread.

My parents' favorite restaurant was Cliff's Elbow Room. Cliff was a popular name back in the 1950's and "elbow room" was an expression for comfort. Cliff's Elbow Room was half-bar and half-restaurant. They served a dish my parents spoke of with wonder. "They serve..." my mother whispered with hushed delight, "... marinated steak!" Half a century ago, our family  travelled over an hour by car on gravelly roads to arrive at Cliff's for marinated steaks. The trip was always a big deal. I remember wood-paneled walls, unpretentious wooden chairs and, of course, the tangy flavor of the marinated steaks.

This week, my brother's wife and kids were visiting Long Island. Out of nostalgia and in tribute, we went to the Elbow Room. And, of course, had the marinated steak. Believe it or not, on the first bite, I instantly recognized its distinctive flavor. I haven't eaten that dish in fifty years but recognized its taste. Our sense-memories have lasting power.

I almost cried when I saw the 1950's-style sign hanging from pipes in front of the restaurant. I vividly remember that sign from our family's visits of so long ago. Memories flooded back to me from a time when giants roamed the Earth.


(That's my dad in the white shirt in the first photo.)

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Power of Hair and Makeup

I'm a Star Trek fan but I never saw the last series ("Enterprise") which ran from 2001-2005. I'm watching it now and it's better than I expected.

I'm fascinated by the female lead who's supposed to be a Vulcan woman. Her face is mesmerizing. I wondered what the actress (Jolene Blalock) looks like in real-life so I checked her out.

The difference between her real appearance and her character's is amazing. A conventional blonde is transformed into an exotic, short-haired Vulcan brunette. You wouldn't know they are the same person. Hair and makeup create a magical change in appearance.

Have you ever changed your look drastically?


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dream Clothes

While we live in the real-world and shop at normal stores, I sometimes browse offerings at tony establishments like Bergdorf Goodman. Many times their clothes are beautiful art. Sure, we can't afford them but it doesn't cost anything to look.

I just saw this amazing coat. Its design and colors astound me. Notice the fitted silhouette, stylishly off-center buttons, and cool painted accent near the hem. I'd grab it if I had $3,450...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Old Photos

I just found a box of old photos. Thought it'd be fun to share them with you.

The first one is photographic proof that, 35 years ago, I was a hunk. The second picture was taken when I was 8 years old; check out the old cars (Rambler and VW bug) in the background.

The last two pictures are me as a baby, a half-century ago. Who gives a boxer-doll with a black eye to a baby?  My parents, that's who.  My gender-training started early.




Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Continuing A Friendship

I started blogging five years ago and became friends with two wonderful women, Tracy and Ashley. Tracy and Ashley are friends with each other even though Tracy lives in California and Ashley lives in Minnesota. (This is the same Ashley I visited last year.)

My first blogger meetup of all time was with Tracy when she visited New York in 2011. Seeing her in person cemented my love of blogging -- if blogging can facilitate making friends this sweet, it's worth pursuing.

Tracy and her charming husband Ian are visiting New York. Last night, they invited me to join them for their 25 wedding anniversary celebration. They didn't have to ask twice!

The party was at a bar in Brooklyn that's so cool it doesn't have any signs. You just have to know where it is and tentatively push open a non-descript metal door. Inside, hipsters and young folk are drinking PBRs and (my favorite) Mother's Milk Stout.

We celebrated with an eclectic crowd. Tracy and Ian have a wide variety of friends from all walks of life and all ages. During the night, I chatted with a comedian from Canada, a canine-officer from New Jersey, a lesbian in law school, and a college kid with no clue about his future. It was fun.

Tracy, of course, was the draw. Her brother Brian told me that Tracy has always been popular and you instantly sense why: she's bubbly and gregarious. And drop-dead gorgeous. Tracy herself later confided that she was a cheerleader in high school. Her hubby Ian is equally charming, with good looks, big muscles and dozens of tattoos. Ian plays music in a band and writes about baseball. He's one of the cool kids.  :-)

Together, Tracy and Ian are a power-couple. They charm the pants off you and then you realize you're not wearing pants. Oops! They brought a vegan anniversary cake to the party since they're long-time vegetarians. Despite everyone's apprehension, the cake turned out to taste good.

Afterward, we walked a gazillion miles in the rain to get pizza at a fabled place; it had a sign saying, "Pizza, It's Not Just For Breakfast Any More."

I have blogging to thank for introducing me to this sparkling couple. Which is why, next month, I'm flying to Vancouver, Canada to meet even more bloggers. If you have the chance to meetup with other bloggers, go for it!


Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Animal World

I saw a bunch of creatures today, including butterflies. Did you know a butterfly has a long tube extending from its mouth which it uses to suck food in? It's called a proboscis and is similar to an elephant's trunk. I also learned that there are male and female butterflies but you can't tell the difference with a human eye. You need to check their ultraviolet reflectivity with a machine.





Saturday, June 6, 2015


I'm heading out today to a wildlife festival.  They have hundreds of butterflies, birds and animals, including alligators. I hope the butterflies and alligators aren't in the same place!

Of course, I'm bringing my camera. I'll share pictures later. Here are some from the past.

Isn't nature amazing?!





Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hit and Miss

I crave female experiences. Sometimes I get them, to my chagrin.

I planned a nice outfit today but when I tried it on, it didn't work. The clothes didn't fit well and they didn't go together. What worked in my mind didn't work on my body. Does that ever happen to you?

So, back to square one. I scratched the idea and started over. I pulled out several never-worn pieces from recent thrift-adventures and tried to make magic. Various combinations didn't work. Then, inspiration struck. A dress that's way too tight up top has a cute sparkly red skirt that appeals to me. So I cut off the top and wore what was left as a skirt. I'm pairing it with a sheer, frilly black top. And, of course, red heels. Every gal should have a pair of red heels.

These sassy pumps stop traffic. I need a license to wear them. They are the most expensive shoes I've ever bought ($99) but they're definitely worth the expense. They make my legs look shapely.

Looking at the pictures now, I realize that sheer is... sheer. I probably should have worn a cami underneath. Live and learn.

The outfit is okay. Not great but okay. Creating it was fun and that's enough justification for spending an evening playing with clothes. Please view the pictures in that light.